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Volleyball: North flashes talent, potential in sweep against West
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North Forsyth's Kate Perryman (top), Regan Mercado and Halle Vercek (13) celebrate after winning a point in the Raiders' match against West Forsyth on Sept. 11, 2018 at West Forsyth High School. - photo by Ian Frazer

North Forsyth co-head coach Kelly Cecil had a message for the Raiders yesterday: Don’t worry about the record.

It may sound counterproductive at first glance, but the reasoning is sound. The Raiders, much younger than they were last year, are 14-11 after Tuesday’s 3-0 win at West Forsyth. It’s a solid mark, but a less dominant one than last year’s state quarterfinalist squad carried at the same point in the season.

Cecil used recent local history to make her larger point. South Forsyth was similarly unremarkable through the regular season last year: The War Eagles carried a 15-24 record into the state playoffs. But they, too, wound up as state quarterfinalists.

“Obviously you want to win when you’re given the chance to and you can, but nobody remembers South’s record,” Cecil said. “Everybody remembers that South made it to the Elite Eight last year. And that’s what we keep telling our girls.”

Tuesday’s win, by set margins of 25-17, 25-21 and 25-20, showed the progress and young talent that could carry North in the near future. The Raiders fell behind 8-3 to a more experienced West squad in the first set, but soon they were up 23-12, having pulled off a 14-1 run.

That was evidence of an area in which the Raiders have progressed considerably this season: noticing and correcting errors, but not focusing on them so much that they get themselves down.

“We were just making errors that we knew we shouldn’t be making,” senior outside hitter Mary Ellen Enright said. “And we knew what we needed to do, so we just fixed it.”

The newly potent offensive duo of Enright and sophomore Kate Perryman also had given North fuel to go on plenty of runs. Perryman played a significant role in last year’s Raiders squad, but in an almost exclusively defensive capacity.

Over the summer, though, Perryman joined a club team and made vast improvements in her offensive game, and now she regularly takes swings and comes off the outside. She had multiple kills and blocks in North’s pivotal run in the first set.

“She’s a bit of a game-changer for us,” Raiders co-head coach Drew Cecil said. “She’s very effective for us at middle, and she’s becoming more effective as the season goes on at outside.”

Enright, at least, is convinced by Kelly Cecil’s point about the relative unimportance of the team’s record. At the end of the regular season, the Raiders just have to be better than two other area teams to make state, and North already has two wins, with the other coming last week over Forsyth Central. If they make the playoffs, they can make a run, just like South did.

They’re certainly not taking that as a given, though.  

“It’s not going to be easy, whatsoever,” Perryman said. “We’re going to have to work so hard to get there.”

The Raiders are 14-11 and 2-1 in Area 5-7A. West fell to 12-14, 0-2.